Rights Restored To Michigan Auto Accident Victims

The Michigan Supreme Court has dramatically changed auto-accident personal injury law in Michigan with a decision released in early August 2010. The case overturns an earlier decision that had frustrated auto-accident victims for years. Now, rights are restored to victims who previously may not have been able to recover for their injuries.

The decision addresses the interpretation of Michigan's No Fault Act. Many think it reestablishes the proper interpretation of the criteria that people who have been injured in an auto accident must meet to recover damages for their pain and suffering.

In order to recover pain and suffering damages, Michigan law requires victims to prove a "serious impairment of body function" resulting from the crash. Under the new law, three conditions must be met for an injury to qualify as a serious impairment of body function:

  • First, there must be an objectively-manifested impairment. This means the injury must be observable or perceivable by actual symptoms or conditions.
  • Second, that impairment must be of an important body function. An important body function is one of value, significance or consequence to the person with the injury.
  • Third, the impairment of the important body function must affect the person's general ability to lead his or her normal life.

The new law only requires that the impairment influence some of the victim's capacity to live his or her normal life. This is much easier to prove than the old requirement, which demanded that the impairment completely alter a victim's life course or trajectory in order to recover damages for pain and suffering.

The recent decision eliminated the list of factors that previously were considered in determining whether an injury or impairment altered the course or trajectory of an injured person's life. The court also removed duration requirements that were extremely burdensome to victims.

The Supreme Court's 2010 decision restores rights to victims of auto accidents as originally intended by the Michigan Legislature. However, the law will be applied considering the unique facts and circumstances of each case. Therefore, if you have been injured in an auto accident, it is important to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney to find out how the new law may affect you.